Whoops. Crystal had basically caught up with us, like, five minutes after we had set off, but she did not give us the scolding that I expected. I guessed she could sense the urgency of the mission like I could. Especially since M had slain the beast then and told everybody that they were a ‘bunch of pansies’ for distracting themselves from the target. Right on! I had a thought to change my name to ‘A’; it would certainly help me feel more superior and confident.
“Hey, Umber…” I called through the crowd to welcome the newcomer who had just appeared from nowhere...Or so I wondered. It seemed up to me now to welcome the younger members of this expedition. I’ve always had a liking for Gamblers and Daredevils…
I’d never met Umberchild before, but I’d heard her name being called around the land of Protagonize and, from her entrance, she seemed a very interesting woman. I’ve sure we’d be the best of friends!
Suddenly a confident voice from the front announced we were moving forward. About time, I say!
But Stormland wasn’t called ‘Stormland’ for nothing. Its gales and earthquakes made the journey across even a small stretch of land tedious, and I noticed that at least five of our group were lagging behind.
"‘Stormland’ is where the storm is in the land." Crystal said with Argonautian knowledge and authority.
Yeah, thanks, I’d had that all figured out already. But before I could pass on this snappy remark to Roxy and Mask, I caught sight of what lay ahead. A spitting geyser. Oh no.
Though outgoing, I could see that Roxy, being the youngest here, was struggling to keep up with everyone as they dodged the flaming rocks that were raining down on us. Rushing to my friend’s side, I grabbed hold of one wrist and practically pulled her along. I heard her gasp, but could not, for the life of me, tell whether it was from surprise, relief or pain.
Suddenly I almost collided with Spook who had stopped and was looking at the part of the World below us. The Sea of the Lost.
The sea of the lost looked threatening. Inside it I could see all the characters and scenarios that could have been, but never were. I even saw a potential Meggie Greene story that I never got round to writing, and a character called ‘Cassandra Hope’ who arrived too late to join a story.
“Crystal…” I called, entranced by my never-stories’ patterns of movement. Back and forth, back and forth.
The others quickly managed to pull me away from the distracting images and Crystal had soon drawn into life the many gondolier-type boats that we were using to cross the sea.
Behind Spook, Element and GoldenLilac, I clambered into the second wooden craft, and carefully lowered myself down. Best not to rock the boat before we even started travelling, eh? Roxy’s descent was far less graceful; she collapsed heavily beside me. Umberchild was the nearest other passenger to us. She clambered over my stubby legs to gaze at Roxy.
“Is she okay?”
“She’s just a bit exhausted.” I explained, just as I noticed a pebble sized burn in the centre of Roxy’s palm.
“Hey, have you got any medical expertise?”